Know How / Soils

Expert advice on how to assess soil health and improve it to raise crop yields. Find out when to test your soil and how to interpret the test results. Improve the structure of your soil by encouraging earthworms, adding organic matter, improving drainage and growing cover crops.

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Practical advice

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How to accurately measure the organic carbon content of soil

How to measure organic carbon in soils and, even more importantly, accurately measure how it changes over time, are major challenges in the potential development of new income streams for…


How deep cultivations can repair heavy land after a wet winter

Heavy land arable farmers could benefit from subsoiling or mole ploughing after harvest in order to get soils back into shape, ready for autumn cropping, after a wet and damaging…


4 reasons why blackgrass strategies are failing to deliver

Reducing the weed seed bank is a key objective when tackling blackgrass, and early results from a project looking at seed numbers suggest four reasons why farmers aren’t seeing the…


How to use active fallows to repair soils on undrilled land

Growers with land left undrilled this year should consider the use of active fallow to improve soil condition and prepare the ground for next autumn’s drillings. In an active fallow,…


How to sort out grassland compaction

The UK saw another very wet season this winter resulting in waterlogged fields and the risk of the long-term damage to soils. The rain has had a massive impact on…


How to manage fallow land hit by wet winter weather

Many growers will be forced to leave land fallow this season and, although that means no income, there are big benefits from higher crop yields in the future and herbicide…

Case studies

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How a dairy farmer gets 14t/ha DM of grass with minimal inputs

A large-scale organic dairy farming business is growing up to 14t/ha dry matter of grass on its silage ground with minimum inputs since increasing soil organic matter fourfold. Wil Armitage…


How regenerative farming cut fixed costs by 40% in first year

It is safe to say Nick Padwick isn’t looking for a long transition to farming using regenerative agricultural principles at Ken Hill Farms and Estate, near Snettisham. With an immediate…


Regenerative farming: The theory and the farmers doing it

Regenerative agriculture provokes strong opinions and passionate debate. There are those who are sceptical of the claims being made in its name, while others have completely bought into the idea…


5 ways a Lincs estate is improving its soil management

Balancing good soil management and health with the short-term interests of a large-scale commercial farming business is difficult to manage. However, one Lincolnshire estate has been implementing a long-term plan…


Monitor Farms: Soil and brome success, carbon next priority

Cleveland farmer John Aynsley has seen soil health improve by successfully adopting direct drilling as part of his three-year stint as an AHDB Monitor Farm in the North East. He…


How grower uses a carbon calculator to track no-till success

Carbon accounting is one of the measures Overbury Farms is using to gauge the success of the major agronomic changes it has made over the past decade. The move to…


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Why a farmer is establishing catch crops with a sprayer

A farmer in Lincolnshire is trialling a new way of sowing catch crops, by adapting his sprayer to sow the seed in a standing crop of vining peas. Arable farmer…


How farmers can take part in the Big Soil Community project

A co-ordinated effort to sample and analyse the biodiversity of farm soils is now in its second year, with further sampling scheduled to re-start this autumn. Known as the Big…


Fermenting organic matter better for soil than composting

Fermenting organic matter in a similar way to ensiling grass, rather than composting waste, can lead to greater improvements in soil health while at the same time helping farmers to…


6 key findings from the AHDB's latest cover crop research

Cover crops are firmly entrenched as a core component of regenerative agriculture, but many growers are finding it difficult to know how to fit them into their rotation or, even…


Tips on getting soils and rotations back on track

After one of the wettest winters on record, it could be assumed that UK arable soils will be in desperate need of first aid before the next cropping season begins.…


How farmer groups can work together to get most from ELM

Farm adviser, Alison Cross, believes that farmers should act together in groups to get the best out of Britain’s future farming policy and so have a wide impact on the…

Latest soils news

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Poll: How would you rate your soil health?

More than one-third or arable growers could be affected by degraded soils, according to a new survey. Scientists at Rothamsted Research have developed a “soil health” measure that shows 38%…


Scientists discover how manure improves soils

Scientists have solved the mystery of why adding organic material like manure to soils improves flood and drought resilience, climate control and crop yields. Founded on more than 50 years’…


Soil erosion poses risk to food security, study warns

Soil erosion on UK farms will contribute to a decline in crop yields if left unchecked, according to new research. Scientists at the University of Exeter studied more than 1,500…


Adas trials show lowest-ever soil nitrogen levels

Following months of wet weather and widespread flooding on farms, Adas is advising growers to focus on sampling for soil nitrogen supply (SNS). Pete Berry, Adas head of crop physiology,…


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Video: High-pressure water tech aids direct drilling success

Replacing drill coulters with a high-pressure jet to open up the soil will not only improve germination, its inventors believe it can aid rooting by cracking compaction and aerating soils.…


Drainage contractor splashes £400k on state-of-the-art plough

Mastenbroek has built its first UK-bound trenchless drainage plough in more than thirty years for Warwickshire-based Farm Services, which is keen to satisfy a resurgent number of farmers requesting field-scale…


Video: Sugar beet drilling starts as growers play catch-up

Sugar beet drilling is racing ahead between the rain showers on light land with one Suffolk Brecklands estate looking to catch up from its latest start in more than a…


Video: The plan that battered blackgrass in 12 months

Three Cambridgeshire growers are fighting back against a heavy yield penalty imposed by blackgrass with a new establishment system and have seen a dramatic turnaround in just 12 months. Declining…